Category: Job Hunting


JobCentre Advisor ‘Disciplined For Not Sanctioning Enough’ | Same Difference.

Ian Duncan Smith and the DWP have said time and time again that there are no targets for their Jobcentre Plus staff to reach, regarding the sanctioning of welfare claimants. Despite copies of letters to the contrary supposedly released by whistle-blowers, they have been adamant that no such criteria exists.

Yet here we have another DWP employee, an advisor with Jobcentre Plus, who is claiming to have been disciplined for not sanctioning enough claimants. Thus, it would appear that there is a covert set of targets for them to reach. In what could be described anecdotal evidence to back up this claim, is the rapid rise of claimants sanctioned. As reported in The Guardian on May 14th this year, the amount of claimants punished in such a manner rose to 227,629 in the last three months of 2013, an increase of 69,600 on the equivalent quarter in 2012. 

This begs the question, if there are targets to hit and staff are in danger of not reaching it, would they falsify a sanction in order to protect their own job? If so, that means there could be literally thousands of people unable to pay rent, afford food or heat their homes because of an outright lie. Someone is being forced to either punish another human being undeservedly, just so that they can keep their job and continue to do the same. That should not just scare unemployed people the most, but it should scare anyone who thinks that our government is prepared to help them should they lose their jobs.

Bankers who gambled with out money and politicians who didn’t legislate to prevent it may have brought the economy to its knees, but it’s the country’s poorest who are now ultimately paying for the rich peoples’ mistakes.

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More nonsense from the wonderful world of job hunting! Another in my occasional series of crap job adverts, which are hiding the truth about your prospective employers.

1.) Company confidential: Alarm bells ringing already. Chances are you’ve heard of them (probably from BBC’s Watchdog!) and they don’t want to scare you off.

2.) New start/fresh challenge: Some old bollocks you’d never sanely considered doing!

3.) Need to fill 6 positions IMMEDIATELY: 6 people never showed up for work this morning!

4.) ‘Outbound’ – ‘call centre’ – ‘market our products’: DANGER, DANGER – COLD CALLING ALERT, COLD CALLING ALERT!

5.) Good friendly personality: You must be able to take all manner of abuse from people who didn’t ask you to call them!

6.) Telephone manager to arrange interview: We’re NOT giving you our address…probably because we don’t have a premises!

7.) Self employed position: We take a cut of what you earn, making money off your sweat as you work 60 hours a week to pay your gas bill!

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Oh and just to make super sure you can’t reach us when you don’t get paid – we only use non geographic numbers!

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When you’re job-hunting, you need to learn to read between the lines and learn ‘recruit speak’. Here’s an example of what I mean *£15,000 – £20,000 (DOE) = You’ll get £15,000

*Monthly bonus = IF you and your team meet targets and bonus criteria doesn’t change

*Up to 32 days holidays = You’ll start with 22 and MIGHT get Bank Holidays (but probably not)

*Client is a market leader = Doubtful you’ve ever heard of them

*Provision of high level customer service to clients across both the banking and telecoms industry = It’s an outsourced company and you’re there as long as they aren’t out-tendered

*Fun and driven workforce = Fun means nights out on the piss to forget your crap day and driven means you’re under the target gun

Frustration!

While looking for a job, part of my routine is to return to my CV periodically to make sure that it in relation to my application, it is relevant. I customise the summary at the top of the page, change emphasis on certain skills when required and keep it readable. We’re told by professionals that HR people are trained to pick out required skills quickly, reducing the time they spend on this exercise as much as possible. In fact, there are often automated systems in place on email servers, programmed to look for these all-important keywords and omit the human factor completely.

The reason I bring this rather obvious thing up, is because I received  a call on Monday from someone who had found my CV on-line. Apparently I fitted the bill for a vacancy in a subsidiary company of theirs, which they needed to fill quickly. In particular, it was my administrative experience and account management skills that were most interesting, so he wanted to know if I was still available and looking for a job. I don’t need to tell anyone who has been unemployed for a long time, that such a call has the immediate effect of boosting the flagging ego. ‘Someone values me!’ ‘Someone  thinks I could fit in!’ It wasn’t a job offer, but perhaps it was a way to get my foot in someone’s door?

I was told to expect a call either that day, or the day afterwards from their HR Manager at the subsidiary office. So Monday came and went, as did Tuesday, at which point I decided to chase the job rather than wait for it to come to me. Ever since a former employer told me that chasing the job distinguished me from other candidates, I have always done so wherever appropriate. Rather the call I chose to email, as it helps build an electronic record of my job-hunting activities. I also requested a ‘read receipt’ so that I knew the email was opened, although many recipients choose not to allow it. It also tells prospective employers that I have a command of grammar, spelling and language in general.

I received a reply within a few hours, but not the one I was hoping for. I was told that far from receiving an answer within 2 days, the advertisement was being advertised on graduate website for two weeks first. Only then would they make a decision as to ho they would invite for interview. I was told that her colleague should have told me this during our initial chat, but I never commented on it as ultimately, complaining about their procedure would not have helped me in any way.

What did annoy me was that it appeared to be a graduate position, so as I’m not one I wondered why I was contacted. I then received another email asking me to confirm what my degree was, so I wrote back and advised her that I had none. I suppose I’m annoyed because I allowed my hopes to raise a little, but I’m equally annoyed that someone wasn’t actually paying attention to my CV  after all. I now wonder just how many other people have received my letters and CV, only to pay it scant regard and wrongly discard it without reading it properly. It would go a long way towards explaining why I get little or no response to anything I apply for.

First post

So you’re unemployed! You’ve been out of work for a year, or maybe two years and you’re struggling to make a dent on employers’ doors. I know it’s hard, I honestly do. I know that pride and confidence can be casualties of war when you’re battling to get back to work, because every non-response and every email beginning with ‘I regret on this occasion…”, is like a bullet hitting you. I haven’t got the answer to getting back to work, making yourself feel better, or how to prop up your self esteem, but I can tell you what I’m doing and you can decide if it’s worth trying.

I was working until November 2011 for Real Radio, albeit for only 6 months. This was my last full-time, paid job and since then I’ve been looking for work every day in newspapers, magazines, the job centre and on-line not just for similar jobs, but for any job I think my experience can be adapted to. I didn’t think that it would be an easy task by any means, but I didn’t think that 27 months later I would still be unemployed.

For the most part I don’t get a response from employers or recruitment agencies, but then it’s unreasonable to expect one from them when they are deluged by applicants for each post they advertise. Unfortunately this does take its toll and at some point, you begin to question your past experience and its value. “Was I just lucky to have had those other jobs?” “Are the skills I have worth nothing?” “Am I, for whatever reason, unemployable?” These thoughts are negative and I’ll concede that point, but remaining positive after this length of time is not easily achieved.

I don’t know about good or bad luck, but I do know that if you are out of work for a long time then your skills will be rusty at best, if not completely out-of-date. The only way to improve this is to get some kind of training, whether that is through a training company, a friend or a ‘welfare to work’ provider. I took two courses through Pitman Training in 2013, which were funded via my Independent Learning Account. They were Twitter for Business and Social Media Strategy for Business, both of which I passed with distinction. I was also fortunate enough to have a family connection with a business who needed someone to help with their Facebook presence, so the courses and the practical application of the skills coincided perfectly.

From a self esteem point of view it has been a blessing, because aside from job searching I have something worthwhile to do during my days. I treat each day like a working day, getting up as if I was going to work and starting my tasks at the same time I’d begin them in an office. Even though I’m not on the payroll, I enjoy what I do and hope that it will open doors for me into a new career. To that end I have taken responsibility not just for Facebook, but for Yelp, TripAdvisor, Foursquare and most recently, Twitter. I am using Hootsuite to schedule posts/tweets in advance for Twitter and Facebook, which is extremely useful even for a free version. I also create all of the promotional images used by the business on social media, using Photoshop Elements 6.0 to edit photographs taken by myself and a few others (See below). I am teaching myself Photoshop by way of a combination of YouTube tutorials, guide books and software, bought very cheaply via eBay.

If I can’t work, then I must train. It’s the only thing I have any kind of control over and if I am to get back into real work for real pay, I clearly need something on my CV other than 2 year old skills! It’s not a quick fix by any means and have no idea if it’s a fix at all, but what I do know is that I am trying and that I am SEEN to be trying by prospective employers.

Open Mic Nights promo created March 2014

Open Mic Nights promo created March 2014

Wine promo created March 2014
Wine promo created March 2014